One of the fundamental aspects of the D/s flavor described by Ms. Rika in her book can be summed up by the phrase “true submission is not about what the domme does to the sub, it’s about what the sub does for the domme.” In her opinion, if as a sub you aren’t prepared to embrace that as true you aren’t really a submissive. That’s not to say you don’t enjoy bottoming in a scene, but if you’re really submissive, you want to serve the top all of the time. It has taken me a year to really come to understand that.
I will admit right here that I’m not the coolest kid in the BDSM class and can only just begin to understand how that POV might set some folks off, but regardless, it make sense to me. A lot of sense. As Belle and I have wound our way down our version of the D/s garden path, I have felt that need to serve her grow and grow. As I said the other day, this would seem to run counter to my inclination to be selfish in the rest of my life. What I think now is that these two impulses (the selfishly service-oriented sub) are not contradictory. In one sense, the fact that I am selfish and self-centered only throws into sharp relief how very important my service to Belle is. It’s hard. Really hard. But, as has often been observed, the only things in life worth having usually are. Also, one could construe the fact that I have led our relationship to the point where I am allowed to serve as her sub as fundamentally selfish since it was all my idea to begin with and I seem to have been the driving force behind the gradual evolution of our dynamic in this direction. I have no problem with this interpretation because, at the end of the day, it makes me very happy. I could not have brought Belle here against her will, obviously, but that doesn’t matter. I pushed for it because of how it makes me feel as much as because I wanted to make her feel good. Is there conflict in that statement? I don’t think so.
Last night, Belle stopped at this sentence in a comment left by Micheal_X:
There is also the argument that in D/s the submissive serves the dominant and the dominant serves the relationship.
My interpretation of that means that while I dedicate myself to her service, I am also placing a great deal of faith in her that she will not take it for granted. She will do what is necessary to ensure my continued happiness. This does not mean she will indulge my every fantasy, of course, and whatever she does she’ll do from her dominant position in the relationship (what, when, how long all decided by her), but along with my service she also receives my faith that she will look out for my emotional needs. This, more than anything, is what I’ve struggled with in our D/s dynamic in the past. Faith. Honestly, it’s something I’ve struggled with my entire life. It’s one of the reasons this is so scary for me. Whatever I get out of the relationship (other than the things I bring with me or create internally) will be coming from her and I will have essentially no control over them.
Dev highlights the peril of this leap of faith in here:
I just feel pessimistic about the whole endeavor. What are you supposed to do if you’re married or partnered with a person you love, but your sexualities are really not very compatible? I have no idea, and maybe this type of advice is as good as it gets. “Stop trying to turn your wife into a leather-clad dominatrix” I can get on board with. “Find out what her needs are and where you can find common ground so that you can serve her” – sure, that’s a good idea. But how much of your sexuality are you willing to give up, and how far are you willing to ask your partner to bend to meet you?
Of course, she was asking rhetorical questions about a rhetorical couple, but I agree that transferring to Belle as much control as I have leaves me open to a very large potential downside. But, Belle “serves the relationship” and I’m part of that. I know Belle will do enough of what I find sexually satisfying to keep me happy. She may even do more than she already has. I trust she will ensure our D/s dynamic will always be a two-way street (where the rules of the road are hers, of course).
Rika suggests the sub should list the things he wants to do with and for his dominant partner. To the best of my recollection, she says this list should include all kinds of things, from the mundane (make your coffee) to the exotic (use your imagination). She then suggests the dominant go through that list and mark the things she’s not at all interested in, the things she will accept as part of routine service, and the things she’s willing to provide as gifts to the sub. Not as rewards, but gifts.
As an aside, this “no rewards” thing is something I struggle with because, like most people, I want my friggin’ rewards! But I get where she’s coming from. I shouldn’t serve Belle because I want rewards. I should do it because I want to. Her recognition of a job well done should be reward enough. As soon as I absorbed that, I found that’s what I really wanted all along. Not the act of the reward, but the recognition that motivated it. Now, when Belle tells me I’ve done a good job, I get an unbelievably satisfying rush of emotion (just before the feeling that I could have done better).
Anyway, this idea of making a list and then marking the items “no”, “always”, and “sometimes” is incredibly efficient and straightforward. And there’s nothing to say I can’t add things to the list as they come to me or that she can’t change her mind about some things as we go along, but isn’t that approach better than constantly haranguing and cajoling a reluctant partner into doing something? Better than living in hope that that one thing might someday happen if you can only figure out the right way to position the prospect? Remember my fascination with Belle allowing me to use a strap-on to bring her to orgasm? Yeah, that was fun. When she finally put her foot down and squashed the idea totally, I actually found myself at peace (though you can bet your sweet ass it’s going on my list just in case she’s had a change of heart).
For what it’s worth, here’s the initial list of household tasks I have offered to Belle:
- I will make all the beds every day.
- I will make her coffee every day.
- I will feed the kids breakfast every day.
- I will take the dog out every morning.
- I will do all of the laundry, including folding and putting away.
- I will pick up both kids from school at least twice a week (normally we each get one).
- I will prepare a majority of the dinners and be primarily responsible for all the dishes.
- I will take out the trash and recyclables and make sure they get to the curb on time.
I am allowed to delegate some of these things to our 11-year-old son, but am still responsible for getting them done.
Belle asked me last night if it was better for me to have a list versus just a general expectation. I told her I need the list. The list is not all-inclusive, but it does represent a baseline against which I need to perform. I will always look for other things to do as the opportunities arise and I encouraged her to task me with anything else she wants me to do, but I like the routine the list provides. It’s dependable.
Yesterday, she made one of the beds before I could get around to it. She said she was only trying to make things a little easier. Of course, that makes perfect sense. It’s the thing any normal person would do. But I took it as mark of failure. That was my job. I was going to do it, I just hadn’t had the opportunity yet. For me, it’s close to her rejecting my service. We both know it’s going to be hard for her to walk by something like an unmade bed and not make it, so we both have things we need to work on.
So anyway, I’m just kind of rambling here. Expounding on the idea of service since it’s the shiny new thing. Writing this helps me assemble how I feel and think and, of course, helps lay it all out for Belle.